Florida law remains deadlocked and the state is keenly interested in the outcome of the Battle of Texas. Florida filed a Supreme Court brief on Wednesday supporting Texas, and Florida’s brief was co-signed by 11 other states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska and Carolina. from South.
“Amici states have a vested interest in defending the regulatory authority of sovereign states in this area,” the Florida filing says. “Indeed, many states have enacted or are considering laws that resemble the laws of Texas and Florida, and believe the Fifth Circuit was correct to stay the district court injunction pending appeal.”
The Texas law applies to social media platforms with “more than 50 million active users in the United States in any calendar month.” It says a “social media platform cannot censor a user” based on the user’s “viewpoint” and defines “censorship” as “block, ban, delete, deplatform, demonetize, de -boost, restrict, deny equal access or visibility to, or otherwise discriminate against expression.” Under the law, users or the Texas Attorney General can sue platforms that violate the ban.
Texas Says First Amendment Doesn’t Apply
The Texas brief argues that its law banning “viewpoint”-based moderation does not violate the First Amendment because it “regulates conduct, not speech — in particular, platforms’ discriminatory refusal to provide or discriminatory reduction of service to classes of customers The First Amendment generally does not preclude restrictions on “conduct,” even if those restrictions “impose”[e] incidental charges on the floor. Because the hosting rule simply requires platforms to serve customers on a non-discriminatory basis, it’s “a perfectly legitimate thing for the government to do” – even if the service provided by the platforms is “to host speech of another person”.
Texas claimed that social networks cannot claim a right to “editorial discretion” because “platforms have spent years disclaiming responsibility or editorial control over content generated by their users.” Texas also argued that an “entity does not exercise ‘editorial discretion’ in controlling communications between third parties. Even if the platforms exercised some degree of editorial discretion in hosting other people’s speech, they would still not have the right to ‘editorial discretion’ to be free from regulation limiting how they control users’ communication with each other.” Social platforms “were designed for the specific purpose of host speeches from third parties and are “open to the public to come and go as they please,” Texas wrote.
Texas said its case was supported by the Supreme Court Pruneyard decision involving a shopping center that prohibited visitors from engaging in expressive activity not “”directly related to [the mall’s] for commercial purposes,” which violated a California law that prohibited shopping malls from infringing on the “speech and petition” rights of the visiting public. Texas continued:
This Court rejected the mall’s argument that it enjoyed a “First Amendment right not to be compelled by the state to use [its] property as a forum for the speech of others. “This Court found that California’s lodging requirement did not infringe the mall’s speech rights for three reasons. First, because the mall was ‘open to the public to come and go as they please. “, no reasonable viewer would have associated the views of a given speaker with those of the mall itself. Second, California did not require the mall to host a “specific message”; instead, the State law applied equally to all potential speakers and messages.Third, the mall remained free to “expressly disavow any association with” any disadvantaged speaker or message…